Components of attention during infants' manipulative exploration.


The purpose of the project was to investigate attention in infants as they manipulate objects. It was hypothesized that examining, in contrast to other activity, reflects focused attention and active intake of information. The first study with 7- and 12-month-olds supported the hypothesis; examining declined with increasing familiarity, while other behaviors, such as mouthing and banging, did not, and examining occurred before other behaviors temporally. The latency to examine declined significantly with age. The second and third studies investigated the effects of age and familiarity on both latency to and duration of examining. Latency again decreased with age but did not change with increasing familiarity. In contrast, duration of examining did not vary systematically with age but declined sharply with familiarity. In a fourth study, latency to examine and duration of examining were related to different measures of attention at 3 1/2 years. The combination of results suggests that the latency and duration measures reflect different aspects of attention--a short-term reaction to object novelty and a more sustained response to the object and its characteristics.


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